Watford's mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, accused by Labour candidate Jagtar Singh Dhindsa of 'misleading' residents over Watford health campus plans

Mayor accused of 'misleading' residents over health campus plans

Mayor accused of 'misleading' residents over health campus plans

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Watford’s elected mayor has been accused of "misleading" residents over the need to sacrifice allotment land to help rebuild Watford General Hospital, by a political opponent.

Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, a Labour candidate in the May Mayoral elections, said the master plan for the health campus showed most of the Farm Terrace Allotment land was being used for new homes.

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill flatly rejected the accusation and said the allotment land was needed to make the whole regeneration scheme work. She added Councillor Dhindsa’s comments indicated he did not understand the financial aspect of the project.

The row broke out as Watford Borough Council looks set to plough on with the health campus, which has promised around 700 home and new health facilities, while uncertainty hangs over the hopsital element.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General Hospital, has said it may not finish its clinical strategy - the blue print for regenerating its sites - until mid 2015. Meanwhile the trust has run into financial troubles.

The Farm Terrace Allotments had originally been protected in the health campus plans, but in 2012 Watford Borough Council’s administration voted to include the land, saying it was necessary to make the scheme viable for developers.

This week, Councillor Dhindsa said: "Personally I feel she (the mayor) has misled the community in Watford by saying the allotments are going to be used for the development of the hospital. But when you look at the plans there is hardly any hospital being put on it.

"The dwellings have gone up from 400 to 700 and there is hardly any infrastructure. Say if there are 300 kids in those homes, then we will need another school. Also my doctors (in West Watford) had a note before Christmas saying it won’t take on any more patients. She should have been up front with the community from day one.

"Why aren’t Dorothy and Richard Harrington going to the coalition government for funding (for the hospital).

"She said she is cracking on with the health campus, I think she is cracking up with all the pressure."

In recent weeks, Mayor Thornhill said the council would be carrying on with the health campus project despite the uncertainty over the hospital redevelopment.

This week she said it was a matter of the health trust "catching up" with its side the project to regenerate the land behind Vicarage Road.

Responding to Councillor Dhindsa, she said: "That is absolutely not the case (that the community was misled). Without a viable scheme there is no way the hospital can go ahead. What this shows is that he (Councillor Dhindsa) does not understand the scheme. He does not understand the partnership, which does not surprise as me when he was in charge of the council they (the previous Labour administration) could not make the accounts work.

"The hospital has to play catch up. We are confident it will catch up and when it does there will be the flexibility for the provision they want. But the new jobs and homes it will create are also important."

Comments (7)

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9:42am Fri 28 Feb 14

TRT says...

Christ. Keep banging on about the bad accounting will you? How long ago was that? Was Councillor Dhindsa a part of that government or even a councillor at all? Whilst it might all be pre-election political mud slinging, the truth should be outed now whilst there's still time.

I think Councillor Dhindsa knows the financial aspects only too well. The scheme was proposed retaining and enhancing the allotments. The hospital trust finances were revealed as shaky. The allotments were then given over for more housing in case the trust couldn't meet its share. The trust is looking more and more like it won't be able to contribute to the scheme, yet the house and road building is going ahead. It's no good selling the scheme to the people on the promise of a new hospital when that is looking less and less certain. If you want to be upfront and honest about it, then just do so. Stop calling it a health campus. Start calling it a "New Community" or whatever else spin title you'll pay a marketing team £20,000 to come up with. You know what'll happen next? They'll start building it, the hospital execs will feel obliged to contribute something to the scheme even though it wouldn't be the most prudent thing to do, but they'll do it anyway just to save face and mitigate any cries of "fraud" in seven years time. And it will end up a shambles, financial auditors will be called in... the scheme will be ripped apart, secret memos will be outed and the whole thing will be a scandal. But will the mayor be called to account? No. Not one of the people involved in promoting this will have to make any reparation to the community. Look at what happened with Watford Springs. Company went bankrupt, costs recovered were enough to cover the demolition of the building, and a prime town centre site went over to mostly housing.
Christ. Keep banging on about the bad accounting will you? How long ago was that? Was Councillor Dhindsa a part of that government or even a councillor at all? Whilst it might all be pre-election political mud slinging, the truth should be outed now whilst there's still time. I think Councillor Dhindsa knows the financial aspects only too well. The scheme was proposed retaining and enhancing the allotments. The hospital trust finances were revealed as shaky. The allotments were then given over for more housing in case the trust couldn't meet its share. The trust is looking more and more like it won't be able to contribute to the scheme, yet the house and road building is going ahead. It's no good selling the scheme to the people on the promise of a new hospital when that is looking less and less certain. If you want to be upfront and honest about it, then just do so. Stop calling it a health campus. Start calling it a "New Community" or whatever else spin title you'll pay a marketing team £20,000 to come up with. You know what'll happen next? They'll start building it, the hospital execs will feel obliged to contribute something to the scheme even though it wouldn't be the most prudent thing to do, but they'll do it anyway just to save face and mitigate any cries of "fraud" in seven years time. And it will end up a shambles, financial auditors will be called in... the scheme will be ripped apart, secret memos will be outed and the whole thing will be a scandal. But will the mayor be called to account? No. Not one of the people involved in promoting this will have to make any reparation to the community. Look at what happened with Watford Springs. Company went bankrupt, costs recovered were enough to cover the demolition of the building, and a prime town centre site went over to mostly housing. TRT
  • Score: 8

9:42am Fri 28 Feb 14

Cuetip says...

Richard Harrington in refuting his colleague Mike Penning prior to his election in 2010, gave a solid promise that the Health Campus promise was written in tablets of stone and not on wood riddled with dry rot.

Now it seems that developers with an eye for a main chance given the ever increasing demand for more and more 'affordable' housing pushed by unsustainable population growth have used the Campus 'health properties' as a reason for telling allotments to to get their forks out and build well over 50% more housing 'units'.

If the St Albans and Hemel sites are to be closed with land sold for housing to provide yet more money , is this really the best location to serve the people with an all singing all dancing super hospital which will probably consist of a series of annexes given the 'cost savings' to public services?

Look out for new promises as the election looms as they cynically fight for votes.
Richard Harrington in refuting his colleague Mike Penning prior to his election in 2010, gave a solid promise that the Health Campus promise was written in tablets of stone and not on wood riddled with dry rot. Now it seems that developers with an eye for a main chance given the ever increasing demand for more and more 'affordable' housing pushed by unsustainable population growth have used the Campus 'health properties' as a reason for telling allotments to to get their forks out and build well over 50% more housing 'units'. If the St Albans and Hemel sites are to be closed with land sold for housing to provide yet more money , is this really the best location to serve the people with an all singing all dancing super hospital which will probably consist of a series of annexes given the 'cost savings' to public services? Look out for new promises as the election looms as they cynically fight for votes. Cuetip
  • Score: 17

10:48am Fri 28 Feb 14

watford gal says...

We are not getting a new hospital. The old PMOK and Maternity building will still be there and they are already being patched up with lots of money being spent on 'revamping'. The hospital staff are as disappointed as the public. We might get a couple of new units in the new development as a token gesture but no one really knows do they? We have all been told about this amazing new health campus for at least ten years and the majority of us (staff) will believe it when we see it. The hospital grounds are like a building site. Lets just hope it's for new hospital buildings and not more houses. We shall see.
We are not getting a new hospital. The old PMOK and Maternity building will still be there and they are already being patched up with lots of money being spent on 'revamping'. The hospital staff are as disappointed as the public. We might get a couple of new units in the new development as a token gesture but no one really knows do they? We have all been told about this amazing new health campus for at least ten years and the majority of us (staff) will believe it when we see it. The hospital grounds are like a building site. Lets just hope it's for new hospital buildings and not more houses. We shall see. watford gal
  • Score: 13

11:45pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Andrew1963 says...

watford gal wrote:
We are not getting a new hospital. The old PMOK and Maternity building will still be there and they are already being patched up with lots of money being spent on 'revamping'. The hospital staff are as disappointed as the public. We might get a couple of new units in the new development as a token gesture but no one really knows do they? We have all been told about this amazing new health campus for at least ten years and the majority of us (staff) will believe it when we see it. The hospital grounds are like a building site. Lets just hope it's for new hospital buildings and not more houses. We shall see.
And the other point is that staff will lose the car park. With Watford already paying less than Northwick Park, mount Vernon and other Nearby London hospitals, can't see the hospital attracting the senior clinical staff to build a reputation for clinical excellence. The NHS is moving toward fewer bigger hospitals. Fifteen years ago the strategy was two acute hospitals for Hertfordshire, but the tide is turning to having just one mega hospital and Watford will have a tough fight to beat off the view that it should be located more centrally like Welwyn G C.
[quote][p][bold]watford gal[/bold] wrote: We are not getting a new hospital. The old PMOK and Maternity building will still be there and they are already being patched up with lots of money being spent on 'revamping'. The hospital staff are as disappointed as the public. We might get a couple of new units in the new development as a token gesture but no one really knows do they? We have all been told about this amazing new health campus for at least ten years and the majority of us (staff) will believe it when we see it. The hospital grounds are like a building site. Lets just hope it's for new hospital buildings and not more houses. We shall see.[/p][/quote]And the other point is that staff will lose the car park. With Watford already paying less than Northwick Park, mount Vernon and other Nearby London hospitals, can't see the hospital attracting the senior clinical staff to build a reputation for clinical excellence. The NHS is moving toward fewer bigger hospitals. Fifteen years ago the strategy was two acute hospitals for Hertfordshire, but the tide is turning to having just one mega hospital and Watford will have a tough fight to beat off the view that it should be located more centrally like Welwyn G C. Andrew1963
  • Score: -3

1:35pm Sun 2 Mar 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

So typical of Dotty. So typically arrogant LibDem.

If you disagree with her, "you simply do not understand".

Dotty, the trouble for you is we understand only too well and that's why I am challenging you for the position of Watford Mayor in 2014.

We need to put an end to the way you do business and work in a way that everyone can understand, a way based on truth and openness and no hidden agendas, particularly when it comes to huge developments.

In short Dotty, it's time for you to go. The LibDems are failing the people of Watford and it really is time for something better for the people of Watford.

That's why I urge everyone to vote Ukip in the forthcoming elections.

If you want to find out more about Ukip and what we offer, please come to one of our open public meetings in Watford. The next ones will be in April and May, dates and venues to be announced on our website once they are finalised.
So typical of Dotty. So typically arrogant LibDem. If you disagree with her, "you simply do not understand". Dotty, the trouble for you is we understand only too well and that's why I am challenging you for the position of Watford Mayor in 2014. We need to put an end to the way you do business and work in a way that everyone can understand, a way based on truth and openness and no hidden agendas, particularly when it comes to huge developments. In short Dotty, it's time for you to go. The LibDems are failing the people of Watford and it really is time for something better for the people of Watford. That's why I urge everyone to vote Ukip in the forthcoming elections. If you want to find out more about Ukip and what we offer, please come to one of our open public meetings in Watford. The next ones will be in April and May, dates and venues to be announced on our website once they are finalised. Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: 6

9:18pm Sun 2 Mar 14

Maceo & Fred says...

BBC inside out London is showing an article on the allotments and their inclusion in the Health (housing) Campus scheme on Monday 3rd March at 7.30pm
BBC inside out London is showing an article on the allotments and their inclusion in the Health (housing) Campus scheme on Monday 3rd March at 7.30pm Maceo & Fred
  • Score: 4

9:02pm Fri 7 Mar 14

TRT says...

http://www.bbc.co.uk
/news/uk-26338761

With this and the green belt and the allotments...

so it begins.
http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/uk-26338761 With this and the green belt and the allotments... so it begins. TRT
  • Score: 0

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